The National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced a new initiative yesterday. The new initiative intends to “help families manage their television viewing and protect children from inappropriate programming.” NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow offered the reasoning behind the new campaign (which can be found on the internets at controlyourtv.org:
“The cable industry shares the concerns of many parents, who want to guard against TV content they feel may be inappropriate for their children,” McSlarrow said. “While many cable customers already have the tools to block unwanted TV content, many are not aware how to use parental control features.”
Blah, blah, blah. I commend the NCTA for undertaking this task, but it really is a $250 million waste of money. Ideally it’ll keep Congress at bay because Congress seems to react favorably only when money is thrown at a problem. It reacts extra-special, super-duper favorable when it gets to define the problem. The free flow of money makes them feel like maybe some more of that might come their way for the next election, I suppose. Absurd, sure, but it beats legislation.
My issue with this is that parents who won’t read the instructions for their cable box won’t be influenced by this ad campaign. They don’t take the time now, so why will they with a few more spiffy commercials? Besides, those parents aren’t the ones who send e-mail and write letters and place telephone calls to L. Brent Bozell and the Parents Television Council every time some one says “H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks” on the TV. The parents who do will not be happy with this for one reason: it’s voluntary. Put a different way, it still allows all of the so-called offensive content to go to people who want it (or can’t/won’t stop it from reaching their children). The real opponents who’ve made this an issue want morality legislation and nothing else.
Consider this statement from Mr. Bozell:
… L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, blasted the program as an attempt “to spin the public with a multi-million-dollar campaign to promote channel blocking and V-chip technologies as an adequate remedy for families concerned about their children being exposed to violent, profane and sexually explicit programming.
“This $250-million sham is being foisted on American consumers by the cable industry with the sole purpose of shirking responsibility for its product,” Bozell added.
What else would Mr. Bozell promote that allows free citizens to choose what they watch and don’t watch? Does he not realize that this “$250 million sham is being foisted on American consumers” because of his blathering about indecency and the downfall of America and the inevitable coming of orgies in the streets thanks to one (not-really-) naked nipple fifteen months ago? Does he realize that that $250 million isn’t coming from the charity of the NCTA, that it’s coming from those parents who don’t bother to read the instructions that come with the
indecency machine cable box hooked to their televisions? Or that it’s coming from me, an American consumer who understands that changing the channel or clicking the On/Off button on my TV remote is free? I already paid for those instructions the first time and my mother paid the taxes that supported my education which taught me how to read those instructions I’ve already paid for. But, nope, that’s not good enough, you have to be an obsessed Luddite who believes that every American child is the direct target of indecency and every American parent is too stupid to parent. Thanks for looking out for me, guy, but stop it. Now.
Mr. Bozell does offer rationalizations for his concerns. Consider:
“In order for the V-chip to work, it must rely on an accurate ratings system,” Bozell said. Pointing to the PTC’s recent report, The Ratings Sham: TV Executives Hiding Behind a System That Doesn’t Work, he called the existing system “a fraud, rendering the V-chip a useless tool and an irrelevant, meaningless gesture.
“Currently, the networks — not an independent body — determine a program’s rating, and those same networks are financially motivated to lower ratings in order not to scare away advertisers,” Bozell said.
Mr. Bozell doesn’t seek a method for a television rating system to be meaningful. He wants Congress to be the “independent body” that legislates what is acceptable. According to his “independent” standards, of course. I’m not going argue the financially motivated part because it defies logic to bother beyond a simple explanation. Advertisers are scared away only when viewers come complaining. Mr. Bozell and his devotees don’t go complaining to the advertisers, they go to Congress and the FCC.
Mr. Bozell added:
“Finally, even if the ratings system were accurate and the V-chip useful, it does nothing to solve the root problem,” he added. “Hollywood is flooding the family living room, via broadcast airwaves and cable, with offensive material, much of it deliberately designed for impressionable children.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to literally kick my feet to brush aside the offensive material. It’s everywhere and I’m afraid that my landlord is starting to get
pissed danged upset about the filth. Do you know how many times I’ve had to hide a pile of breasts and the random, scattered Victoria’s Secret lingerie show lying around so that my house would look presentable again? I fear the day that must be coming soon when one of the cats licks the carpet and comes down with some horrible STD from the three seconds my TV was stopped on MTV last week. I’m sending that vet bill straight to Hollywood. But we all know nothing in Hollywood is straight, so the kitty’s STD will probably bankrupt me before I can get paid. Good thing you’ve come up with this alternative:
“Better yet, why doesn’t Hollywood just stop flooding television with sewage?” he concluded.
I don’t think they empty their sewage into the televisions, but I could be wrong. (I would think it would do bad, bad things to the wires.) Maybe you should call them instead of Congress. Better go directly to the source. Not directly to the source, I guess, but the central office maybe. Start there.
(Hat tip: SpeakSpeak.org)